LETTER TO EDITOR
July is Minority Mental Health Month. This occasion provides a timely and appropriate opportunity for Pawnee Mental Health Services to speak to issues related to the mental health of communities of color. First recognized in 2008 by the US House of Representatives as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, this month was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the United States. Bebe Moore Campbell was an author, advocate, national spokesperson, and cofounder of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Urban Los Angeles who died in November 2006.
The American Psychiatric Association reports that rates of mental illnesses in African Americans are similar with those of the general population but disparities exist regarding the mental health services they receive. Only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receives it and African Americans often receive poorer quality of care than the general population. They also lack access to culturally competent care which meets their social, cultural, and linguistic needs.
Taking into consideration recent incidents which have brought long-standing issues of racial injustice to the surface, NAMI CEO Daniel Gillison says, “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored.” NAMI’s Mental Health Month Campaign this year is “You are not alone.” This message is especially important at this time given that, as a nation, we seem so close to the political, social, economic, and health care breaking point due to the management of COVID-19.
It is Pawnee Mental Health Services’ mission to provide services to all regardless of race, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability and any other status or condition protected by law. Current events compel us to listen and learn more about how racism affects the mental health of our staff, those we serve, and the communities of which we are a part.
Throughout the month of July, NAMI is requesting personal stories to highlight the importance of minority mental health and to help people feel less alone in their mental health journeys. If you are interested in sharing your story, you may submit it to nami.org/yourstory. Selected stories will be featured on nami.org/personal-stories, nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog and at #NotAlone,#MinorityMenalHealth , #MMHAM.
Mental Health America, another excellent mental health resource, is also providing an opportunity for people to learn from each other about racism and mental health. If you are interested in sharing how racism has affected your mental health, tag MHA on Facebook (@mentalhealthamerica), Twitter (@MentalHealthAm), or Instagram (@mentalhealthamerica) with #ImpactOfTrauma.
For more information, visit NAMI and MHAmerica’s social media sites if you would like to listen and learn more about how racism affects the mental health of people of color. You may also “follow” Pawnee’s Facebook page where we will be featuring information about minority mental health throughout the month of July. For more information about Pawnee Mental Health Services, please visit our website at www.pawnee.org. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call our 24/7crisis line at 1-800-609-2002.
Pawnee Mental Health Services